One hundred and twenty-five years ago today, the largest earthquake to ever hit the East Coast struck here.
Its epicenter was Summerville, but its shock waves reverberated up and down the coast -- much more than the Aug. 23 Virginia quake that was centered about 40 miles from Richmond.
Charleston's streets turned into waves. Buildings rose, fell and often crumbled. People heard an awful roar. New Yorkers raced from theaters into the streets in panic. Inmates rioted in a Richmond jail.
Others felt it as far away as Toronto, Nebraska, Cuba and Bermuda. The recovery was long and challenging -- but ultimately successful.
While the Charleston area had experienced many milder earthquakes before and since, the magnitude 7.3 quake of 1886 remains by far the Lowcountry's most significant recorded seismic event.
It was more than 10 times stronger than the 5.8-magnitude quake that did damage recently in Virginia and neighboring states. Each number represents an order of magnitude, so a 6.0 magnitude quake is 10 times stronger than a 5.0.
The 1886 earthquake has remained a source of interest today. The most recent history, "Upheaval in Charleston," came out in June. Its authors, Susan Williams and Stephen Hoffius, will present an illustrated lecture on their research tonight and will sign copies of their book.
The event begins at 6 p.m. in Room 227 of the College of Charleston's Addlestone Library.
An in-depth look at some of the recent research behind the 1886 earthquake, plus a glimpse at how the Lowcountry might fare in future earthquakes. Also, interactive before-and-after photos from around Charleston.
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